In my opinion, if you want to be a most valuable player on a team, you have to do two things; consistently perform at a dominant level and consistently be on the field. That's why I'd argue that senior linebacker Marcus Whitfield is Maryland's MVP this season.
Whitfield has been a stud on defense for Maryland this season, settling into the starting SAM linebacker role after bouncing between outside linebacker and the defensive line throughout his time in College Park. He led the team in sacks with nine, which included a net total of 90 yards lost, tackles for loss with 14.5, and quarterback hits (2). Additionally, he broke up three passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick, in addition to recording 50 tackles. In a word, he was dominant.
At the start of the season, Whitfield teamed up with Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil to form an impressive pass rushing threat that allowed both players to excel. But even with Cudjoe-Virgil's season-ending injury midway through the season, Whitfield continued his dominance, helping Maryland to tie for first in the ACC in sacks, along with Virginia Tech. Whitfield finished tied for 5th for most sacks in the conference and 8th in tackles for loss.
Whitfield was also named an honorable-mention All-ACC selection and in September was named the ACC's linebacker of the week after recording three sacks in Maryland's win over UConn. Whitfield was one of only three Maryland players to be honored on any of the all-ACC team selections, further demonstrating how his consistent performance was recognized outside of College Park.
Speaking of consistent, Whitfield was just that this season, averaging 4.12 tackles and 0.75 sacks per game. Additionally, on Whitfield's 14.5 tackles that resulted in a loss this season, the opposition lost an average of 7.4 yards. That is substantial and extremely disruptive to the opposition's ability to continue a drive. As a result, teams always had to account for Whitfield's presence on the field, ensuring additional blockers were in place to protect the quarterback and thus impacting what they could do on offense.
Marcus Whitfield might not be the sexiest MVP candidate, but without him this season, Maryland doesn't make a bowl game. As a result of the numerous injuries in Maryland's secondary, opposing quarterbacks could attack the Terps' defense in the passing game. But Whitfield helped mitigate that, frequently forcing opposing teams to pull an extra receiver off the field in favor of an extra blocker and or making quarterbacks rush throws when he quickly came off the edge after them.
So who is your MVP?
Alex thinks Will Likely WILL LIKELY by Maryland's MVP
Pete argues that Matt Robinson is the MVP
And I obviously think Marcus Whitfield is the man.
Vote in the poll below for who you think is Maryland's 2013 MVP and let us know in the comments why you voted the way you did.